3.16.2011

editor of national review speaks up for bradley manning

Raw Story reports that Robert VerBruggen, editor of the ultraconservative National Review, is speaking out against the US Army's torture and abusive treatment of Bradley Manning.

I assume everyone already knows that P. J. Crowley, the US State Department spokesperson who called the treatment of Manning "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid," was forced to resign. Much to his credit, Crowley did not backpedal or detract his statement. VerBruggen also comments on Crowley's statement.

Bradley Manning has found yet another unexpected defender.

An editor at the conservative National Review magazine is speaking out on behalf of Manning, the Army private accused of leaking U.S. State Department cables to WikiLeaks.

Robert VerBruggen declared Tuesday that there was "no excuse" for subjecting Manning, who has not been convicted of a crime, to harsh conditions.

Manning attorney David Coombs revealed earlier this month that for at least two nights in row, the Army private had been "stripped naked" for as long as seven hours at a time.

Manning has been held at the Quantico brig since July under a maximum security regimen, which leaves him in his cell for 23 hours a day, because authorities say his escape would pose a risk to national security.

"He has yet to be convicted of a crime -- and, regardless, prisons should avoid inflicting arbitrary and pointless miseries on their charges," VerBruggen wrote.

"On at least two and possibly three occasions, prison officials have used their discretion to subject Manning to harsher procedures than would normally be used under the brig’s policies. Manning’s treatment may well be legal, as the general counsels of the Departments of Defense and of the Navy found — the policies in question are just guidelines — but that doesn’t make it right," he added.

. . .

"The fact that the State Department's P.J. Crowley spoke out against Manning's treatment, however ill-considered the outburst was, should encourage Americans to demand a better explanation," VerBruggen noted.

"Manning is an American citizen in an American detention facility, and he has not yet been convicted. There is no excuse for subjecting him to harsh conditions, so long as he poses no threat to himself or others. The American people deserve an explanation as to why Manning remains in maximum custody and on prevention-of-injury watch," he concluded.

So the National Review is more humane and just than Obama.

13 comments:

CAulds said...

> So the National Review is more humane and just than Obama.

And that puts it into perspective very well.

There is no solution in the ballot box. President Obama's election was decisive proof of that.

I am an expatriate American citizen ... I will vote in the next U.S. presidential election. However, I do not want to hear about the next miracle candidate who is going to reform Washington and restore the government to the people. There is no electoral or political solution. That's why Wisconsin is so important right now. It's not about politics. It's about people. It's about people demanding that they be treated with dignity and recognized for their value to society. And what is so damned wrong with that?

I really only want to hear from those who care about people. About society. Revolutionists against the oligarchy. Anything else is a complete waste of my time.

And that's why I am glad (in the middle ages of my life) I found I had the backgone to break a lifelong cycle of support for Americans cancerous rightwing.

laura k said...

There is no solution in the ballot box. President Obama's election was decisive proof of that.

Certainly not as presently constituted, the choices that are allowed to surface.

CAulds, I think if you had defected from the right wing a little earlier, you might have come to this conclusion long before Obama.

Revolutionists against the oligarchy. Anything else is a complete waste of my time.

I agree. So I'm curious, why are you still going to vote in the US?

Not being snarky, just interested in your answer.

allan said...

So I'm curious, why are you still going to vote in the US?

I was wondering, too, since most of your post -- "There is no electoral ... solution" -- would lead me to believe the opposite.

CAulds said...

So I'm curious, why are you still going to vote in the US?

You know, I'm not sure. I always have, since 1976. We're still waiting to write the exam for Canadian citizenship, so I don't have the option of voting here in Canada.

If I vote in the next U.S. general election, it will be as an absentee voter in the state of Alabama, a place where there is almost no point; elections there are completely locked up at the national and state level.

You've got me thinking ... actually, it is completely pointless. :-)

Some Person said...

When I remember supporting Obama since February 2007, Day One of his campaign, and then Manning, Afghanistan, letting the banksters run loose, sitting on his hands while crypto-fascists run the country in the ground, I can't help but remember back to this clip from Oliver Stone's Nixon, specifically at 4:43:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJtoW9GvWtk

laura k said...

I always voted too, and did voter registration drives, and talked to young people about the importance of voting.

But I voted in the US for the last time in 2004.

I wrote this about it a few years ago. Now that I'm a Canadian citizen it makes even more sense to me. I don't want anything to do with that broken system, ever again.

laura k said...

And to finish the thoughts in that old post, I have not renounced my US citizenship, and I probably will not. I have family in the US and I want to be able to see them.

As long as I still have US citizenship and have not committed a felony, border guards have to let me in. If I renounce, I can be kept out at their discretion. I decided not to give them that option. :)

CAulds said...

Last Fall, when it became obvious that President Obama would extend the Bush tax cuts for families earning $250,000 or more annually, I prepared to go through the same process of rationalizing this act as "a clever ploy, I'm sure, we just don't see the end game." I prepared to be, yet again, one of those people saying, "Barack Obama is a genius, we aren't smart enough to fathom his plan, but he has one ... you just wait; he knows what he's doing! He's playing a three-dimensional chess game ... mere mortals can't discern the strategy behind his moves."

Bullshit ... I don't believe in the 3D chess game anymore. For that matter, what kind of person even thinks like that?

I believe President Obama is up against insurmountable barriers. That doesn't excuse his choices, and he has choices. But I also became aware that, for years and years, I have steadily lowered my own bar of expectation and acceptance.

What about an end to the AfPak war? The closing of Guantanamo? Restoring the regulatory controls on the activities of the banking, lending, and insurance corporations?

On every one of these, I've lowered my bar.

So I decided to set a tripline -- an immovable line that, if crossed, lets me know that my tolerance limit has been reached.

The tax cuts? Those were my tripline: I believe, at the very least, Democrats could have blocked those -- if they chose to -- and with President Obama's leadership. They did not. He did not.

Bradley Manning? An even better example of my principles being crapped on. I do not want to hear the reasons why. I do not want to hear anymore about what Democrats are doing for Americans. The U.S. political system (and the processes by which the system is governed) is corrupt and it is utterly broken.

Ok. I'm done. Persuaded. Convinced. I have decided: I will NOT request an absentee ballot for the 2010 general election in the United States (those all-important congressional mid-terms).

Why should I?

allan said...

Laura linked to her thoughts above, and they likely overlap with mine, but I would not be voting even if we were still in the US.

It's a completely broken system and I think that participating in it is lending it some legitimacy -- maybe not much, but more more legitimacy than I believe it deserves. There is no question that both 2000 and 2004 presidential elections were crooked, and there have been many suspicious state races, as well. Add into the mix that the two parties are often indistinguishable from each other -- certainly neither of them is suggesting anything remotely close to the wholescale reforms the US needs to survive (from daily committing terrorist acts around the globe to denying its citizens the most basic human rights) -- and it becomes an easy choice. For me, at least.

I believe President Obama is up against insurmountable barriers.

This supposes that Obama is on the side of good, but is being blocked and prevented from doing good by forces outside his control. I see no evidence that he is any different than Bush or Cheney. He may make token gestures towards the center or the left, but they are minimal. He might sometimes play "good cop" to the ultra-right's "bad cop", but they are both cops, both working for the same team and towards the same goal.

Glenn Greenwald has pointed out several times one of Obama's most evil triumphs:

"...the most harmful aspect of the Obama legacy is that he has converted what were once controversial right-wing Bush policies into unchallenged bipartisan consensus, to endure indefinitely and without any opposition from either party."

laura k said...

He might sometimes play "good cop" to the ultra-right's "bad cop", but they are both cops, both working for the same team and towards the same goal.

Or as Tommy Douglas put it, white cats and black cats, but both cats.

Perhaps if I were still in the US, I would work towards building support for more parties, or possibly on dismantling the electoral college. But I can't imagine being in the US anymore. I think if we couldn't have gone to Canada, we might have tried to go elsewhere - anywhere.

CAulds said...

Back to Bradley Manning.

Anyone who's ever been connected with the military (U.S. or Canadian) knows how much military tradition values the quality of leadership. It's institutionalized in the military and (unlike the private sector of our economy) in the military there is no distinction between "management" and "leadership." if you are an officer in any of our armed forces, you are considered a leader and you are expected to exhibit, consistently and constantly, the traits of leadership, in your private life as well as your professional. That's tradition, it's doctrine, and it's mandated by the regulations and guidelines set down as the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It isn't optional.

I spent the first 15 years of my professional life working (both as a civilian employee and contractor) for the U.S. Army. During that time, I was exposed to the military's ideas about leadership. We were taught that authority can be delegated, but never responsibility. Personal responsibility is core to military leadership. Yet, for many years, we have governments that would do anything, its seems, to avoid accepting responsibility for their numerous mistakes.

The treatment of Bradley Manning is excused by pointing to his actions or crimes to justify the actions of his captors. That is not merely unethical, it is a violation of the very most basic principle of military leadership, that one cannot excuse one's actions by pointing to the actions of another. And it is placing the blame on the victim for the injury or indignity done to him. We are all responsible for our own actions; no one else can make us violate our own principles or ethics. When we violate our own principles; we do so by choice. Always.

Leadership, particularly in the military, never means justifying our own actions by pointing to the actions of others.

The treatment of Bradley Manning is a violation of military eithics and the military's code of honor. Because he is utterly powerless; it is an act of abject cowardice. It is despicable. Dishonorable. Shameful.

On a personal level, let me say: No one else is responsible for my actions. I am. Me. Myself. Alone. No one can make me do evil things.

laura k said...

The treatment of Bradley Manning is a violation of military eithics and the military's code of honor.

But those ethics and that code is on paper only. Certainly that's been proven time and again and again for the US.

CAulds said...

But those ethics and that code is on paper only. Certainly that's been proven time and again and again for the US.



That's just it. The military violated it own code of ethics, of honor, and reduced its sacred "code of military justice" to a "piece of paper," and they violated the stated principles on which that code based. Bradley Manning did not do that, or cause that. They did it willingly, and easily. They live by no "code of honor", they merely pretend to. The loudest protestations should've come from with the military, from those who are outraged by these extreme violations of the principles of their nation. They are silent. Bradely Manning is not the issue. His mistreatment is just a demonstration of low our military has fallen.

Hypocrisy sucks. And when an individual or institution is repeatedly guilty of it, they are no longer worthy of our respect or admiration. They are certainly not worthy of emulation.

This is not primarily a matter of the violation of one man's "civil rights." Manning's imprisonment without charges or trial was not a violation of his civil rights, hear me now: it was a violation of the very most basic American and Canadian principles of justice. It was a violation of my principles, and I hope, yours.

Nothing Bradley Manning has done justified his mistreatment. It is not his rights that concern me; it's the violation of my principles that offends me and angers me.